17 bodies threaten to join strike as union targets private hospitals

KMPDU Secretary General Davji Bhimji Atellah (c) accompanied by other medical practitioners, addresses the press on April 4, 2024. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

More pressure is piling on Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha after health professionals from 17 associations yesterday threatened to join the ongoing doctors’ strike from next week.

The strike, which entered the 23rd day yesterday, has continued to cripple the health sector with nurses and clinicians joining in.

Attempts by both parties to resolve the stalemate have been unsuccessful with each side accusing the other of frustrating talks.

And yesterday, the Kenya Health Professionals Society (KHPS), an umbrella body of 17 health professional associations and societies, threatened to join the strike if the medics’ grievances are not addressed by the national government.

In a letter to CS Nakhumicha, KHPS demanded inclusion of all un-unionised healthcare workers in the ongoing negotiations between the government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners Unions (KMPDU) as pertains to their welfare, internships, career progression and other relevant matters related to service delivery.

KHPS chairperson Mohamed Duba explained that out of the 17 member associations and societies, only five cadres are unionised while 13 cadres are un-unionised.

He said un-unionised cadres have always been on the negotiating table alongside other unions in the previous administration but regretted the exclusion of the former cadres in the talks by the current administration, terming it “demotivating and detrimental to the service provision in the healthcare sector.”

Attempts to get an audience with the CS, Duba noted, have continuously hit a brick wall despite doing so verbally and in writing. 

“We also further demand the Ministry of Health to bring us to the negotiation table on or before the end of this week to avert the commencement of the sit-in stated above. We trust that our concerns will be addressed promptly and with the urgency that it deserves,” adds Duba, through the letter.

The letter is also copied to Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and the Health Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) is seeking to convince their counterparts in private health facilities to join them to pressure the government to return to the negotiating table and fully implement the 2017 CBA without revisions.

“We are going to escalate it such that we are going to stop private hospitals offering private services by consultants. And this will continue next week,” said KMPDU Secretary-General Davji Atelllah.

He was speaking at the University of Nairobi’s Department of Dental Sciences where he addressed a consultative meeting.

Meanwhile, the union has instructed over 1,000 medical intern doctors not to pick their internship letters from the Ministry of Health. This comes days after Head of Public Service Felix Koskei asked intern doctors to pick their posting letters, which Atellah dismissed as “illegal and disgusting”.

The union insists that the proposed monthly pay that ranges between Sh45,000 and  Sh70,000 is unjust compared to their demands.

“This was impunity of the highest order. You cannot purport to hire intern doctors yet reduce their salaries by 91 per cent. We will not entertain this,” Dr Atellah said as consultants from Kenyatta National Hospital and the University of Nairobi announced a boycott of duties in solidarity with their colleagues.

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